Climate Change Adaptation

Student with butterfly

An overwhelming amount of evidence shows that the earth’s climate is warming. This means that communities everywhere need to grabble with changing conditions, and they need guidance about how to adjust so that we can preserve human life, ecosystems, and economic values. To provide this guidance, research on so-called “climate change adaption” is crucial and timely. While the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to slow and stop climatic warming, our program focuses on identifying the need for and the methods of adapting to a warming world.

The Adaptation Program enables adaptation decision-making by managers, governments, and private parties through its work on climate change risk assessment, development and testing of adaptation strategies, and information delivery.


For example, several ECI researchers are using the greater Chicago area as a test bed for adaptation in the built and natural environments of cities. ECI scientists also manage an online community, called the Collaboratory for Adaptation to Climate Change that enables, researchers, students, and managers to analyze and discuss adaptation planning and strategies. And ECI staff, via ND-GAIN produce an annual index of country-level exposure to climate change and the capacity for adaptation, including the sectors of global health, agriculture, ecosystems, water, and infrastructure. Numerous partners collaborate with ECI researchers on these and other projects, including government and university scientists, non-governmental organizations, and private corporations.





Graduate students are welcome to join the research program through the laboratories of ECI-affiliated faculty.

Faculty Investigators

Research Staff



Faith and science can find common ground

July 28, 2015 • Author: Lodge, David • Categories: Climate Change Adaptation

In recent weeks, we have learned that Pope Francis enticed Cuban President Raúl Castro to consider a return to Catholicism, and has ended a dispute involving US nuns that will allow them to return to serving the poor free from the suspicion of heresy.
Perhaps most surprisingly, at least to this Protestant ecologist embedded for 30 years in a Roman Catholic university, the Pope has suggested that humans should not breed “like rabbits”, despite his church’s continued prohibition of birth control.
Pope Francis is clearly a man on a mission to shake things up. Could the world’s leading Catholic help to bridge the divide between science and the Protestant views that dominate the religious ‘anti-science’ movement? I think that he could.

Jessica Hellmann named Director of University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment

July 02, 2015 • Author: Alex Gumm • Categories: Climate Change Adaptation

Jessica Hellmann, associate professor and associate department chair of Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame, has been named the new director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment. 
As director, Hellmann will work to solve grand environmental challenges, while advancing interdisciplinary research, teaching and engaging with external partners and stakeholders. Her appointment, effective August 31, includes joining the University as a Russell M. and Elizabeth M. Bennett Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior.

Faculty React to Pope’s Encyclical on Climate Change

June 22, 2015 • Author: Michael O. Garvey • Categories: Climate Change Adaptation

Pope Francis

University of Notre Dame faculty members continue to comment on the new encyclical Laudato Si, issued by Pope Francis in Rome on June 18. In an op-ed in Wednesday’s Chicago Tribune, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., writes that, “It is characteristic of this pope to speak as the Catholic leader but to seek to build bridges to all people who promote friendship and cooperation serving the good of all.”

Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index honors unique climate-linked projects

September 27, 2014 • Author: William G. Gilroy • Categories: Climate Change Adaptation


In Senegal, efforts to counter the effects of rising sea levels and ocean storms have produced a dike that reclaims hundreds of acres of land for rice. A seawall protects homes, and beach restoration is saving thousands of tourist-related jobs. In India, Indonesia, Kenya and Vietnam, a unique social venture called “Healthy Family” helps address barriers to health care access such as the limited distribution of medicines.

These two separate and unique projects have won the University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index’s coveted 2014 Corporate Adaptation Prize. The annual award reflects contributions to awareness, science or action in creating resilience to climate change and applies to multinational and local corporations working on projects in countries ranked below 60 on the ND-GAIN climate adaptation index.

The 2014 winners, honored at a New York City event at Baker & McKenzie in connection with Climate Week NYC and the United Nations Climate Summit, are:

  • The Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE), based in Senegal, for its projects in three urban coastal areas with economic importance for fisheries and tourism and affected by coastal erosion. The project is a partnership between the Centre, the Senegalese government and Dynamique Femmes, among others, and is financed by the Adaptation Fund.
  • Novartis International AG for creating Social Ventures — shared-value business models that complement philanthropic and zero-profit initiatives — and its Healthy Family initiative that uses both social and business components working together to create sustainable solutions.

The Absence of Political Scientists on the Frontlines of Adapting to Climate Change

July 08, 2014 • Author: Debra Javeline • Categories: Climate Change Adaptation and Transportation Networks, Climate Change, and the Spread of Invasive Species

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